From: Timothy Newsham <> To: Date: Fri, 14 Jul 1995 20:49:35 -1000 (HST)

Revolutionary DCF System to Replace CMM
by Matt Sejnowski 2/16/95 dcf.doc

API Austin - First there were software metrics.  With
these, software developers and their management could
finally measure something for the output of the software
creation process.  In the 80's these techniques flourished.
Funny names for these measurements emerged, like
"McCabe complexity" and "software volume".

     Soon it was realized that there needed to be a
way not only to measure the quality of the software output,
but also to measure the quality of the engineering
organization itself.  The Capability Maturity Model,
CMM, was developed in the early 90's.  Organizations are
audited by professionals and rated on a scale of 1 to 5.
Low scores mean the software production process is
chaotic, while 5 means that all aspects of software
development are fully understood and carefully applied,
all but assuring a quality product every time.  Sadly, most
software organizations today weigh in at a meager 1, and
there's a suprising number of 0's out there.

     Now, a revolutionary new measurement
technique has been developed by a small startup
consulting firm in Austin, Texas.  The new system is
simply known as DCF.  The simplicity and elegance of the
new measuring system belies its power in accurately
judging the soundness of a software organization.

     The inventor of DCF and founder of the
DiCoFact Foundation, Matt Sejnowski, says the new
measurement system is "simple and fool-proof, but
modifications are being made to make it management-
proof as well".

     One Sunday morning Matt was performing his
normal ritual of reading the most important parts of the
newspaper first, when he came across his favorite comic
strip, "Dilbert" by Scott Adams.  Matt and his work
colleagues loved this comic strip and were amazed by how
many of the silly storylines reminded them of actual
incidences at their company.  They even suspected that
Scott Adams was working there in disguise, or at least
that there was a spy in the company feeding Scott daily
cartoon ideas.  Matt suddenly had the flash of genius
inspiration that promised to make him millions:  The
Dilbert Correllation Factor (DCF).

     Matt's idea was simple:  "Take 100 random
Dilbert comic strips and present them in a survey to all
your engineering personnel.  Include both engineers and
management.  Each person reads the strips, and puts a
check mark on each strip that reminds him of how his
company operates.  Collect all surveys and count the
check marks.  This gives you your Dilbert Correllation
Factor, which can range of course from 0% to 100%.
Average out the engineers scores.  Throw out the
manager's surveys, we just have them do the survey to
make them feel important; however, if many of them
scowl during the survey, add up to 5 points to the DCF (in
technical terms, this is your Management Dissing Fudge
Factor, MDFF).  Make sure to also throw out surveys of
engineers that laugh uncontrollably during the whole
survey (remember their names for subsequent counseling).
And that's all there is to it!  Oh yeah, then walk around
the building and count Dilbert cartoons on the walls.
Don't forget coffee bars, bulletin boards, office doors and
of course, bathrooms".  Add up to 10 points for this
Dilbert Density Coefficient  Adjustment (DDCA).

     Interpreting the results is simple.  Let's look at
some ranges:

0% - 25%:  You probably have a quality software
organization.  However, you guy's need to lighten up!
Maybe a few suprise random layoff, or perhaps initiating a
Quality Improvement Program, will do the trick to boost
your company's DCF to healthier level.

26% - 50%:   This is also a sign of a good software
organization, and is nearly ideal.  You still manage to get
a quality product out, and yet you still have some of the
fun that only Dilbert lovers can identify with... Mandatory
membership in social committees, endless e-mail debates
about the right acronyms to use for the company products,
and of course detailed weekly status reports where
everyone lists "did status report" on accomplishments.

51% - 75%: This is the most typical DCF level for
software houses today.  Your software products are often
in jeapardy due to the Dilbert-like environment they are
produced in.  You have a nice healthy dose of routine
mismanagement, senseless endless meetings with no
conclusions, miscommunications at all levels of the
organization, and arbitrary commitments made to
customers which send engineers into cataplexy.

76% - 100%:  The best advice for this organization is
this:  Get the hell out of the software business.  Hire the
best cartoonist you can afford, have him join your project
teams and document what he sees in comic strips... get
'em syndicated and you'll make a fortune!

     Matt has applied for a patent on his unique DCF
system.  He is anxious to become a high-priced consultant,
going to lots of companies, doing his survey, getting the
fee, and getting out before management realizes they've
been ripped off and have to hire another high-priced
consultant to come in and set things right.  Matt reports,
"I'm thinking about a do-it-yourself version for the future,
too.  I'd put Dilbert cartoons on little cards so they can be
passed out to the engineers for the survey... I'll probably
call it 'Deal-a-Dilbert'.  I'm also thinking about a simple
measurement system that lets employees find out their
personality type and where they best fit into the
organization.  I call this the 'Dilbert/Dogbert Empathy
Factor' or 'DDEF' for short.